Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIC and the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge

I thought that I'd share a heart felt letter to Kim, who keeps Dirty Diaper Laundry.  Today she posted the second annual Flats Challenge, which I encourage you to try.  I haven't done it yet, but I'm thinking about it.  She started this last year, which is why I started following her blog.  Had I known about it, I would have been trumpeting the idea long and hard.

Dear Kim,
I wanted to make a comment on your flats challenge but thought it might be long so I decided to write you an e-mail instead.  I apologize for my abysmal grammar.  I've had a lack of sleep lately.

I'm a SAHM of two boys: ages 2 and 4 months.  I elected to stay home for their benefit.  I suppose if I wanted to I could find a job, but it isn't worth it to me.  My children are young and having a parent around them full time is good for their brain development particularly with bonding.  I know that you understand this.  You are an AP practicing parent too.

My husband works outside the home.  He recently finished his PHd and is currently working on his career.  One would think that once you get your doctorate you're going to receive a 6 figure salary.  This isn't true.  My husband is a scientist and would make more money in the short run working as a highschool teacher than the research his is currently under.  Instead we both decided to traverse the country while he makes connections working on various projects to jump-start a good career in the long run.

The problem with both is as you might suspect, money.  We opted to start our family out poor, not because of a lack of education, but because in the long run our finances will be in better shape for retirement and for college.  We really didn't really realize that the government considers us poor.  We live in an apartment, we own a car, we pay bills, etc etc.  My father, who looked at our taxes, told us that we were considered just above the governments poverty line for a family of four.  It was then that I made the decision to get on the WIC program.  I did it to help our tight grocery budget.  I did it for my kids.  I also cried about it.  Again, I don't consider us to be poor.  We're not in a shelter.  We don't go to the food bank.  We're not bad off.  We scrape by.

I owe this in part to good budgeting.  Before we had children, I wanted to cloth diaper.  Sounds selfish, but I did it for traditional reasons.  My husband and I, children of the 80s, were both remarkably cloth diapered.  I'm glad that I did.  It's not easy.  We've had to go to it part time.  Partly because of the cost of laundry, partly for trying to find a night-time solution, and partly because of potty training.  But having cloth around is a lot easier than spending 20 dollars on a box of paper diapers (its what we call them). 

Imagine my joy that you are taking up the flats challenge and this year are shining a light on WIC.  Outside the local diaper bank which I think is something our state has (I'm not sure who runs it.  I know people donate to it.), there is as you said no government assistance for diapers.  This doesn't just mean for kids.  It means for the elderly too.  They also don't get money for diapers either.

WIC is in a word, awesome.  I used to shift through the local food ads and created a price book for food to get the most from our money.  I had visions of going to the stores numerous times to get their low milk deals.  And I no longer have to think twice about that.  I get the basic staples and manage to work meals from there.  One of the things I like about WIC is they support breastfeeding.  They provide pumps and help for nursing issues.  It would be fantastic if they also gave some sort of assistance for diapers.  As you said, a lot of people have resorted to leaving their children in diapers too long.  I've recently read that the amount people have spent on diaper rash cream has gone up.  WIC started out to help supplement nutritional needs of pregnant/nursing mothers and young children (don't I sound like a poster child?).  They were trying to prevent diseases associated with poor nutrition so it makes sense that WIC would also provide diapers (cloth or otherwise) for low income families to prevent disease associated with fecal matter including diaper rash, sores, and yeast infections.

I suppose this is my long winded way of saying thank you.  You never know what one simple idea can do and who it impacts.  I have a small blog myself and I plan on spreading the word about your Flats Challenge (I hope to partake myself in solidarity for those who are definitely poorer than I am).  I hope that you continue to spread the message about WIC and the lack of government support in the area of diapers.

Deltaflute (my online handle)

Let me repeat what I said for those of you who are unaware.  In the US there is no government funds allocated to diapers.  SNAP (aka Food Stamp Program) does not help with diapers.  WIC (Women, Infants, Children) which is designed for families does not help with diapers.  Section 8, which helps with housing, does not help with diapers.  There are numerous government agencies but none of them helps the elderly or young families who need diapers.   Diaper Banks operate entirely from local donations.  From people like you and me who give diapers.  In Tucson, there were always drives including for adult diapers.

So if you want your donations to go to something that will go to good use, try donating to a diaper bank.

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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!